WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for the first three episodes of Bel-Air, now streaming on Peacock.
As much as Will was a playboy in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, he did have his heart stolen by Nia Long’s Lisa Wilkes. He almost married her twice: once on a shotgun whim in Las Vegas, and the second time when they felt they rushed into things and decided against it. That didn’t discount how Will and Lisa felt like soulmates. They simply met each other too soon, being were way too young to take on the responsibility and maturity that came with matrimony.
Will and Lisa’s second break-up led to the Wilkes family being dropped from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Now Peacock’s Bel-Air has brought Lisa back in its retelling of the Fresh Prince story — but this time, she’s very important to the Banks household and has a lot more agency in addition to being an important presence in Will’s life.
Bel-Air introduced Lisa early in the series when Will bumped into her at a party Phil threw to announce he was running for District Attorney. They immediately had chemistry, but Lisa wanted to hold off on pursuing it because she was Carlton Banks’ ex-girlfriend. Will respected that but the duo continued to grow closer due to their similar backgrounds. Neither one was as privileged as Carlton, with Lisa admitting she was at the prep school on a scholarship and Will having moved to avoid gang violence as shown in the Bel-Air trailer.
The show gave much more detail to Lisa. It established that her father Fred was a business associate of Uncle Phil and the Banks family supported her when her mom died, so she had a lot of history with the entire community. The nuance didn’t stop there, though; secrets came to light when a jealous Carlton tried to win Lisa back. She helped him cope with the struggles of balancing athletics and academia and the shoulder he leaned on for his drug addiction. Lisa being a prospective Olympic swimmer was highlighted when Carlton shoved Will into a pool; Lisa dove in and saved his life, leaving Will in her orbit even more but also establishing her own talents.
With these new details, Bel-Air painted an intriguing love triangle, but it also provided Will a best friend. Regardless of the romantic angle, Lisa is one of the few Black classmates he can confide in at a school that’s mostly white. Their relationship could allow for more discussions of Black identity similar to the original series. He also appreciated how she defended him when Carlton had him bullied and when Connor planted drugs on him. The indispensable Lisa believes in him and wants to help him be better at school, basketball and at home with the Banks family.
Still, she can’t stop Will and Carlton from coming to blows so Lisa’s role in Bel-Air is far from over. She may have to draw a line in the sand with one of them to keep both of them from getting into further trouble. Since she’s the one character who has a connection to both of them, she could even potentially help them find common ground and bring them closer to Carlton and Will’s friendship in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.Will Smith promised that Bel-Air would make fans cheer, and Lisa being more than Will’s love interest is definitely something to cheer about.
The first three episodes of Bel-Air are available to stream now on Peacock, with new episodes dropping weekly.
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